What a disaster that turned out to be, and certainly I am in good company with many others who fell prey, and live with similar stories as mine.
Tom’s comment when talking with the District Attorney resonated with me. By the time a case is reviewed by the District Attorney’s office, one of the first actions is a basic online search to uncover any warning signs or red flags relating to the case. A simple background check should be your first step before investing.
Curious about what might have been uncovered if I had done a basic online search prior to any involvement with a particular brokerage, for example, Lew Lieberbaum & Co., Inc., who was entrusted with investing our savings. The online information fifteen years ago may have been available, but not easily accessible online. Most information provided was print material; company generated portfolios, and possibly an online presence. You can be assured that an online research today is far more reaching than fifteen years ago.
That said, I did a search today on the latter mentioned brokerage sited as the example, and the results were not surprising:
Begin with an online search when considering any investment.
Performing an online search is an initial procedures used in an investigation, why not just consider an online search as the standard of good practice when considering any investment opportunity. In addition to a basic background search, Tom, mentions to visit FINRA, and search the broker database, which provides background information on brokers in the security industry. Another site is the Security & Exchange Commission (SEC) website.
Ask yourself, “Do I know where my money is?” and “Do I understand the financial product presented to me, and how it works?”
One particular thought, Bruce brought up, which had an impact on me, and one that I had not considered as a potential conflict of interest and its affect on the investor was fiduciary standards and suitability standards.
Fiduciary vs. suitability. As a real estate broker, I am familiar with having a fiduciary responsibility. Imagine purchasing a home, and represented by a brokerage not representing your best interest, and not subject to a fiduciary responsibility, but governed by the standards of what is considered suitability.
I agree with Tom, replace the current practice of suitability with fiduciary standards of responsibility. All the stock brokerages and all the licensees would have a fiduciary responsibility to represent his or her client’s best interest, and not what may be considered suitable…For whom?
Tom believes implementing fiduciary standards would oust a great number of unethical individuals and make for a better industry. The past two decades have produced some of the world’s greatest “Financial Serial Killers” known, starting with the “Keating Five” in 1990 to Bernie Madoff. Both Tom Ajamie and Bruce Kelly, Authors of “Financial Serial Killers” equate the actions of these cons to that of serial killers. The devastation caused by Bernie Madoff’s actions reaches beyond generations changing forever the direction of many personal lives, communities, and the stability of the economy.
Trying to comprehend “why” and “how” anyone would disconnect and be so far removed from his or her moral compass is futile, and an endless act of chasing you tail. Financial serial killers are void of attachment. These individuals epitomize the phrase, “It’s not personal, it’s business” and have no moral conscious.
I cannot help see a common thread that exists between the mind of financial serial killer and an online predator looking to groom his or her next victim. Their only attachment is the conquest of the next potential victim or the all-mighty dollar in the case of a financial serial killer.
Wendy Joy Hart, was raised by pedophile parents, and said, “You can’t tell by looking”. The same holds true for the financial serial killer, they are trusted pillars in the community, and motivated to bleed you dry, and just as willing as a predator is to commit heinous acts against a child.
As Robert Goldman, JD, Psy. D., pointed out in the New Jersey case involving the brutal murder of two teenagers and their mother, the profound effect on the community, and their immune system, which is not unlike the tragic effects levied on the communities affected by today’s financial serial killers.
Communication and awareness again are tools that can help separate many of us from becoming a victim to almost becoming a victim. Unfortunately, we need to become counter intuitive…Trust is not how you pick your financial planner. Be sure to listen to what Bruce Kelly and Tom Ajamie had to communicate with our listeners and the wisdom both shared. Tom Ajamie and Bruce Kelly authored the book, “Financial Serial Killers” to help provide insight into the travesties caused by these killers, and the lessons shared through the tragic misfortunes of others.
Your CyberHood Watch Partner,
david c ballard
Radio Security Journalist
- Dexter and Other Serial Killers (medicalinsurance.org)
- US investors want tougher broker standards-survey (reuters.com)
- How to Tell if Your Broker is Looking Out for Your Best Interest (money.usnews.com)
- Investors want tougher broker standards (reuters.com)
- ‘Clueless’ Investors Think Brokers Are Fiduciaries, Survey Says (businessweek.com)
- Seizing The Fiduciary Opportunity (forbes.com)